Monday, December 16, 2013

Greening the Meaning of Christmas

Written by Jessica Zimmerle
Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator
Dear friends,

Welcome to the third week of Advent, the time when many of us start forgetting about Advent and start panicking about Christmas.

Let’s be real, it’s hard not to panic when your jam-packed calendar leaves no time for you to check things off your ever-growing to-do list. It seems like there is always more shopping to do, gifts to wrap, meals to plan, and activities to attend. Good grief, consumerism is taking over our lives!

Yet when we finally do cross something off our to-do list, it often leaves us unsatisfied. Some of us may even be feeling a bit like Charlie Brown in the classic, Charlie Brown Christmas, film.
“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards, and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy.”
Like Charlie Brown, sometimes we need to slow down and let our good friend Linus calmly reassure us, “sure, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” Linus continues by sharing the Christmas story, ending with a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Advent is a time of anticipation for the coming of Christ, the ultimate gift! Once Christmas finally does arrive, it is a season to remember the gifts that God has blessed our lives with. In Christmas we praise the presence of God in our lives and find joy in the gifts that cannot be wrapped, like quality time with friends and family. Rather than focusing on receiving, Christmas is meant to be a time of sharing and spreading cheer with all of our neighbors so that all may have a happy holiday season, no matter what faith tradition they practice. After all of the holiday hulabaloo is over, we will be saturated with the hope and reassurance that God’s love will carry us through this new year.

A good place to start embracing this true meaning of Christmas is by taking a step back from the bright lights of what society is telling us we “need” for Christmas and reassessing our situation. I’m not asking you to go rogue and completely ignore mainstream Christmas, just try to consume a healthier portion size.

A good place to start is by greening your traditions, practicing good stewardship and responsible giving. Check out these links and consider the following ways you can lessen your impact:
Or even just consider doing less than you have in years past! Less is more and it can prevent distractions while helping you enjoy more of what you already have.

So let’s all take a deep breath and slow down. Let’s stop panicking about Christmas and start celebrating Advent and all the good that is to come. And let’s remember that we will get everything done in time for Christmas, but that perhaps not so much NEEDS to get done! Instead, let’s remember the true meaning of Christmas, green our celebration, and enjoy our time together on this beautiful Earth!

In peace,